Go Day volunteers assist BR needy

Tina Cantrell spent Sunday morning cleaning a disabled woman’s apartment at Turner Plaza, a public housing authority in north Baton Rouge.

Armed with gloves and sponges, Cantrell scrubbed a toilet clean while other volunteers tidied the kitchen and mopped the floor of the North Street apartment.

“We’re going to do as much as we can,” Cantrell said.

Cantrell was one of about 1,000 volunteers who participated in the fourth annual Go Day, a parishwide community service project sponsored by Istrouma Baptist Church of Baton Rouge.

The slogan of this year’s Go Day was “Don’t Just Go to Church … Be the Church,” said the Rev. Dwayne Pitre, minister of missions at Istrouma Baptist Church.

Pitre said the slogan and event are designed to encourage people to do work that goes beyond regular Sunday church services.

“We like to put leg service to our lip service,” he said.

Go Day workers performed tasks at 26 sites, according to a list provided by the church.

Most of the roughly 1,000 volunteers are members of Istrouma Baptist Church, but some were from other parts of the city, Pitre said.

He said about 75 volunteers helped at Turner Plaza, cleaning and painting apartments of residents who asked for help. The volunteers had planned to repaint parking lot stripes, he said, but couldn’t Sunday because of rainy weather.

In the plaza’s courtyard, volunteers grilled burgers for those residents who were hungry and in need of a free meal.

Many of the Turner Plaza residents are elderly or disabled and need assistance with basic chores, Pitre said.

Organizers chose to spruce up places like Turner Plaza in order to help the most impoverished residents in the city, Pitre said.

“Where else do you start?” he said.

David Frey, who helped organize cleanup efforts at Turner Plaza, spent much of his day working in a unit on the complex’s first floor.

Two people live in the apartment — Melvin Franklin, who walks on crutches because of a fractured ankle, and Franklin’s cousin, Sheila Black, who recently suffered a stroke.

Frey said he enjoyed seeing a smile on Black’s face while the volunteers did their work.

“What’s neat is being able to help someone like this lady who needs it so much,” Frey said.

Franklin said he was thankful for the volunteers’ work.

“I think they’re doing a good job,” Franklin said.

Over at McMains Children’s Developmental Center on College Drive, volunteers painted inside and outside the facility, in addition to pulling weeds and trimming hedges.

LeAnn Teague, one of the volunteers, said she helped paint doors while her husband, Jim Teague, pressure washed the building, among other tasks. Both are members of Istrouma Baptist Church.

LeAnn Teague said she and her husband have participated in Go Day every year since it started.

“Our mission is to reach out to any and all people,” Jim Teague said. “Missions don’t have to be in a foreign country.”

Anne Hindrichs, a social worker with McMains for the last 25 years, said this is the first year the center has participated in Go Day.

Hindrichs said she is “hugely thankful” for help with work that is needed but hard to complete without extra assistance.

“I’m amazed that a crew comes in and gets so much done,” she said.